ABERDEEN and SIOUX FALLS, SD The Sioux Falls Stampede and Aberdeen Wings wanted to defend their championships.
"I guess on a positive we're not letting the (Clark) Cup go right!? It's still in the office, I'm going to hold on to it tight!" Sioux Falls Stampede President/GM Jim Olander says.
They just couldn't have imagined the way they'd retain them.
"We were practicing on the morning of 9/11/01 and I'm not sure we ended up missing a hockey game. There's just so much unknown with this that we just don't know how to operate moving forward." Aberdeen Wings Head Coach Scott Langer says.
Though both the USHL and NAHL only cancelled their seasons within the last 48 hours, all players from the Wings and Stampede had already been returned to their homes.
"It was a little bit of a process. Work with the airlines and make sure that can insure, and they were able to stay until we were able to get them out with their host families." Olander says.
Under normal circumstances, even as they'd be going into the playoffs, both organizations would be preparing for next year, which is harder than ever to do now.
Though both leagues will still likely hold their drafts at some point, combines and tryout camps normally held in May and June probably won't happen.
"The teams that have gone out and done their homework, I think they're going to be okay. I think the teams that havne't are going to struggle during the draft period." Langer says.
The business bottom line will also suffer. Both teams had six remaining home dates wiped out with the possibility of more in the postseason.
"There obviously are going to be some franchises in our league that take a huge hit off of this. It's going to hurt us and we're going to have to find other ways to bring in revenue in order to keep our product the same as it's been over the last ten years." Langer says.
Both the Sioux Falls and Aberdeen appear poised to withstand it thanks to strong ownership groups, and both are planning for next year.
"Making preparations for games for next season, how we can enhance the entertainment level. Our thing is that we're in the entertainment business. We want to give them something to look forward to." Olander says.
Whenever that may be.
Zach Borg, Dakota News Now Sports.